Much like “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” was for Spielberg, “Spy” is Paul Feig’s take on a Bond movie, based on the not unreasonable supposition that ‘they’d never let him direct one’. After seeing this, though, they just might.
When the CIA’s top agents identities are compromised during an operating to recover a rogue nuclear bomb, the agency has no option but to send an unknown desk analyst into the field to take on a ruthless international arms dealer.
Admittedly, we’ve been here before with Feig and McCarthy, first in “Bridesmaids” and then again in “The Heat”. Where the latter fumbled putting a female spin on the typical bromantic buddy cop genre, this one has the secret agent genre firmly in the crosshairs. Unlike “The Heat“, though, this one remembers to be a pretty good action movie in its own right, alongside all the jokes and empowering subversion. McCarthy doesn’t stray far from her usual comfort zone for the most part, although nobody’s complaining given the sheer filthiness and quality of the freewheelingly profane ad-libbed put downs and insults she peppers her peers and opponents with. However, when it comes to the action, she really doubles down and the fight scenes are genuinely kinetic and exciting, all the more so given she does a good proportion of her own stunts. Her duel in a restaurant kitchen with Nargis Fakhri is a particular highlight.
She undoubtedly carries the film and does it with aplomb and the degree to which you embrace the film will depend on how you feel about her particular brand of feisty yet slapstick comedy. Even if she’s not really the kind to leave you shaken or stirred, she’s ably supported by great turns from Alison Janney, Jude Law and, to a lesser extent, Miranda Hart. Jason Statham is also on superb form, expertly sending up his usual ultra hardman persona with a deadly serious deadpan delivery that only serves to amplify the joke. It’s Peter Serafinowicz, though, who comes closest to stealing the entire movie as Italian Operative Aldo, the clumsily over-amorous defacto ‘Bond girl’ of the piece.
While it’s occasionally muddled in respect of whether we’re laughing with Susan Cooper or at her, the film is at its best when it shows her acting according to her own instincts and skills. Feig has crafted an entertaining, energetic globetrotting spy adventure full of inventive set pieces and laugh out loud moments that still manages to throw in a few surprise twists and turns, even when you think you’ve rumbled its biggest secret early on.
With thrills, kills, glamour, intrigue and a surprisingly game cameo from 50 Cent to boot, “Spy” succeeds as both an action adventure and a bawdy, foul-mouthed comedy.